15,16-Dihydrotanshinone I (DHTS) is a component of the traditional Chinese medicinal plant Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge. In this study, DHTS at as low as 2.5 μg/ml concentration significantly inhibited proliferation of human benign (SW480) and malignant (SW620) colorectal cancer cells, as shown by 3-(4,5)-dimethylthiahiazo (-z-y1)-3,5- diphenytetrazoliumromide (MTT) and flow cytometric analysis. Activating transcription factor (ATF)-3, a basic leucine zippertype transcription factor, was found to be predominantly upregulated in DHTS-treated SW480 and SW620 cells. The upregulation of ATF3 was blocked by a c-JUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) or p38 inhibitor. Overexpression of ATF3 resulted in a significant augmentation of DHTS-induced apoptosis of SW480 cells, but resistance to DHTS-induced apoptosis of SW620 cells. These results suggest that DHTS has a strong therapeutic or preventive potential against cancer. In addition, ATF3 has a dual role in DHTS-induced apoptosis, depending on the degree of malignancy of colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3225-3232
Number of pages8
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • 15,16-Dihydrotanshinone I
  • Activating transcription factor-3
  • Colorectal cancer
  • SW420 cells
  • SW480
  • SW620

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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